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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Sore throat (Pharynhitis and Tonsillitis) View In Cats




Condition Overview

These two conditions have a common cause and thus often occur together. In fact, sore throats do not usually occur as isolated infections in dogs, the way they do in humans.


The signs of sore throat are fever, coughing, gagging, pain on swallowing, and loss of appetite. The throat looks red and inflamed. A purulent drainage may be seen coating the back of the throat.

The tonsils are aggregates (a collection) of lymph tissue located at the back of the throat in dogs, the same as in people. This may not be visible unless they are inflamed. This generally occurs as a secondary symptom of a sore throat.

Primary bacterial tonsillitis is rare. It occurs in young dogs of the smaller breeds. Symptoms are similar to that of a sore throat. Any dog showing signs of tonsillitis should also be checked for anal gland problems, as grooming and licking the anal glands can spread the infection to the mouth.


Most sore throats are associated with infections in the mouth, sinuses, or respiratory tract. They can also occur with systemic diseases such as parvovirus, distemper, herpesvirus, and pseudorabies. Dogs with anal gland infection may also have a sore throat from spreading the infection while licking their glands.


Diagnosis is made by veterinary examination.


Acute pharyngitis and tonsillitis respond to treatment of the underlying condition. When a primary cause cannot be identified, treatment involves giving a broad-spectrum antibiotic for 10 days.

Feed a soft diet consisting of canned food mixed with water to turn it to mush. Aspirin relieves pain: see our dosage chart.

Enlarges tonsils must be distinguished from lymphoma and squamous cell carcinoma - the most common cancers of the tonsil. This is done by biopsy. Tonsillectomy for chronically inflamed tonsils is seldom necessary.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian for advice if you suspect your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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